Red Bank Catholic has a new head coach, Mike Lange. Courtesy photo
Red Bank Catholic has a new head coach, Mike Lange. Courtesy photo
" Spirituality is a big part of what I love about RBC and which has kind of what rejuvenated me. There’s such great tradition on that side of it. "
In looking back at the 2018 football season, when he served as defensive coordinator for the state champion Red Bank Catholic football team, Mike Lange called it “a year I’ll never forget.”

Now that he has been named the Caseys head coach, Lange would love to create those memories all over again, but has an even greater agenda.

“It’s about winning championships, but it’s also about the experience,” said Lange, who was promoted when Frank Edgerly left to pursue other avenues. “I just talked to the kids about it the other day. Part of this job is to give the kids the best overall experience.

“Maybe we do win a championship this year, maybe we lose one. But at the end of the day, if the kids come back 10 or 20 years and say, ‘I loved my senior year, my experience at RBC,’ that’s almost worth it even more.”

A lifelong Monroe resident whose mother, Mary, ran the township’s Pop Warner program, Lange is a parishioner of St. James the Less, Jamesburg.

He attended Catholic school, having played football for Bishop Ahr (now St. Thomas Aquinas) in Edison. From there, he played linebacker for Marshall University, Huntington, W.Va.

After graduation, Lange served as defensive coordinator for six years and offensive coordinator for four at Bishop Ahr from 2000 to 2010. He moved on to become an assistant at Cardinal McCarrick High School, South Amboy, before taking over the program for one season before the school shut down.

When Edgerly returned for a second stint at RBC, a friend on the staff told Lange he was looking for a linebacker coach, and Lange jumped at the chance in 2017. He was elevated to defensive coordinator when Matt Ahearn left for a head job at Colts Neck, and the Caseys fielded one of the Shore Conference’s top defenses the past two years.

Looking to hire a replacement for Edgerly that would maintain the continuity, Athletic Director Joe Montano decided on Lange.

Lange is excited for his new position not just because of RBC’s on-field success, but also the football team’s tradition and devotion to faith.

“Just the structure off it, from the way the program has been built, the school from all levels, from the administration down to the kids, the alumni, it’s just got a very unique buzz to it at so many levels,” he said. “Spirituality’s a big part of what they do there. The alumni following is tremendous, and we have some very talented kids.”

Spirituality, Lange noted, is “a big part of what I love about RBC and which has kind of what rejuvenated me. There’s such great tradition on that side of it. Our kids have a prayer … before we go to our games. It puts things in perspective. Our kids, before they get on and off the bus for away games, they go and touch the church. It’s little things you just don’t find in a lot of places.”

And it follows right in line with Lange’s devotion. “I’m very much a man of faith.”

Lange says he is happy that Montano believes in him as he attempts to improve RBC from last year’s 5-4 record. He returns a strong senior class and estimates that seven starters are returning on defense and five on offense.

“Our freshman team was undefeated last year, and we actually had the four best freshmen up on varsity,” Lange said. “There’s a lot of talent in the pipeline.”

For the first time, RBC will open its season playing at Rutgers, where it will meet Neptune in one of several showcase games during August’s final weekend. A week earlier, the Caseys will meet Bergen Catholic at RU in a preseason scrimmage.

Aside from the experienced players, most of the coaching staff is also returning. Joe O‘Connor, a former offensive coordinator at Middletown South, will move into that spot, while Kevin Gaul will replace Lange as defensive coordinator after working with him the past few years.

“I’ll always be a defensive lean,” Lange said. “But I just think a school with this potential, you almost want to manage it like a CEO-type level.  I’ll always have involvement with the defense, but I have two good guys running things as coordinators.”